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Hobbit-Like Human Ancestor Found

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In 2004 scientists discovered a small human ancestor on the Indonesian island of Flores. The remains dated about 12,000 years old. Debate has raged about the position of this species in the human family tree.

One explanation for the short stature of the creature was that it was some sort of modern human suffering from a deforming disease.

New research seems to suggest that in fact H. floresiensis was a unique species with very unusual anatomy. By analyzing dwarf hippopotamus skeletons from Madagascar and comparing them to their African ancestors researchers found that the small brain of H. floresiensis might have been merely an effect of confinement on an island rather than having been caused by disease.

A second study found that foot bones in the skeleton were considerably longer in proportion to the rest of the body. In this way, the new species appears to be more closely related to older human ancestors.

Photo Credit: William Jungers/ARKENAS
Source: Nature

Related Links:
http://nature.com/nature

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Geologic History of West Virginia
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